Federal investigation sought in Paterson police shooting death of Najee Seabrooks
Racial justice advocates are calling for the United States Department of Justice to investigate the Paterson Police Department following the recent fatal shooting of Najee Seabrooks.
A letter was sent Wednesday calling for the federal investigation. The letter goes into the Paterson Police Department's pattern of illegal, abusive, and racially disparate policing - this is what a coalition of civil rights advocates are claiming.
This letter comes two weeks after the police killing of Seabrooks who was in a standoff with police while having a mental health crisis. Seabrooks was trained in violence intervention and worked for the Paterson Healing Collective. The coalition’s letter raised concerns about the killing of Seabrooks and included other example of excessive force by Paterson Police.
“As we search for answers on the tragic death of Najee Seabrooks, many of us continue to struggle with what more we could have done so this would not have happened," said St. Joseph's Health President & CEO Kevin J. Slavin. "We anxiously await details from the Attorney General’s investigation and expect a thorough and objective review will provide information to make sure this does not happen again. We know that there were valuable community resources that could have helped Najee – yet they were not utilized. This includes the St. Joseph’s Psychiatric Emergency Service (PES), which is the NJ designated Crisis Intervention Team for Passaic County (based at St. Joseph’s University Medical Center in Paterson). The PES is comprised of highly skilled and trained behavior health professionals who are responsible to respond to individuals in crisis (in the community) when called upon. We must ask the question – why were we not called? And, demand that this valuable community resource be used in the future for other individuals in psychiatric crises.”
The 13-page letter claims illegal searches, corrupt practice, lack of oversight and racial disparities in the force.
"A trend of widespread, unconstitutional Paterson Police Department misconduct is unmistakable – and has disproportionately impacted Black and Brown residents, depriving them of their civil rights ... DOJ must intervene to bring about the kind of accountability that Mr. Seabrooks and his family, and others like them, deserve – along with the people of Paterson," the letter concludes.